Day 8

The Plagues Begin



Exodus 6:28-30, Exodus 7:1-25, Exodus 8:1-32, Genesis 47:4-6, Psalm 95:1-5

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Exodus 6:28-30, Exodus 7:1-25, Exodus 8:1-32, Genesis 47:4-6, Psalm 95:1-5

One of the biggest fights my husband and I have ever had was over a bug.

Not just any bug, but a big fat bumblebee. We were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Asheville, North Carolina, after a day of hiking waterfalls with his brother. Mountains all around, crisp air, blue skies—it was nearly perfect… until a bumblebee flew up from under my seat, and I started shrieking. “PULL OVER PULL OVER RIGHT NOW!” I shouted, as he kept driving.

Realistically, there was nowhere to pull over. We were driving winding mountain roads with no shoulder. I was panicking, and there was nothing he could do (except match my pitch and yell at me to calm down). Finally, a scenic overlook saved us. But my nerves were shot, and my brother-in-law had witnessed a “real marriage moment.”

I can’t read Exodus 7 and 8 without cringing. A river of blood, frogs, gnats, flies just sounds gross. This is one of those passages that I try to skim over without putting myself in the scene: piles of dead frogs that filled the land with stench, and then “all the dust of the earth became gnats.” Is your skin crawling? Mine is.

The panic I felt driving down that mountain road, while feeling hunted by a hungry bumblebee, was probably nothing compared to the terror of being swarmed by flies, gnats, and frogs. In these pages from Exodus, Pharaoh goes back and forth in his response to God, who pulls back the plagues, hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and then sends an even worse plague. Sometimes the plagues are universal, affecting the Israelites in tandem with the Egyptians. Others, like the swarms of flies, are directed only at the Egyptians, while sparing the Israelites as only God can do.

The Egyptians believed that their gods controlled the very things that God commanded in the plagues. During the first three plagues, the magicians of Egypt call upon their gods to mimic what Moses and Aaron were doing. During the plague of the gnats, the magicians could not replicate the work of God. “For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods.” There is none like Him (Psalm 95:3; 86:8).

The meta-narrative of Exodus reveals God’s character to His people: He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6–7). The plagues serve to pull back and reveal another layer of God’s character. He demonstrates His authority over the earth, over the plants and animals, over His people, over all things.

Eventually, the plagues work; Pharaoh relents, and the Israelites are freed. God has rescued His people, but He has also shown them that He can be trusted, that He is in their corner, and that He has all authority in heaven and earth.

Hundreds of years later, God would come to earth as a man and again reveal His authority through a series of miracles—calming the sea, healing the sick, raising the dead—that showed His people and the watching world that He alone is God. We can sit in awe of His power today.

SRT-Lent2018-Instagram-Day8

Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing, and reading in Nashville, Tennessee. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables. She writes online at www.melanie-rainer.com.

Post Comments (141)

141 thoughts on "The Plagues Begin"

  1. Marli Neel says:

    Why did God straight up tell Moses that he’d harden Pharaoh’s heart ? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to let the people just get up and walk out ? I ask this as a point to be made that A LOT of things in my life would be much “better” or easier if the desired outcome would just happen instantly. That MY gratification wasn’t delayed. That it could be like a drive-thru… say what I want… drive ten feet and poof it’s ready! But that isn’t the road to sanctification is it ? The road that shows Gods power. The road that shows His faithfulness. He does as He wills and it’s for His glory. Even if it’s uncomfortable like how Moses felt. He pleaded with God bc he didn’t feel adequate for speaking and God gave him Aaron. He didn’t feel believable so God gave him power through his staff. He provided a way for Moses when he wasn’t too sure of himself. Glory to God bc He is faithful and will do so with us.

  2. Josie Vadala says:

    Agreed!

  3. Michelle Emery says:

    I love that God fights for his people–“let my people go!” He fights for us too, he is on our side, he wants what’s best for us. What good news!

  4. Lilly Dyer says:

    This may sound silly, but the passage states that the magicians used the occult to actually produce similar outcomes of God’s plagues, so is “magic” actually real? I’m just confused that something that isn’t real is actually seemingly real in the Bible.

    1. Annerie Logan says:

      Yes magic is real, it’s demonic forces at work. But God showed that He has authority over everything, even demonic powers. What a great God we serve!

      1. Lilly Dyer says:

        So, if magic was real in the Bible, is it something that is still present? Are there actual witches and wizards in today’s world? I guess I’m confused because this is something I have always been taught is not real and made up. Obviously, I don’t think Harry Potter is really off at Hogwarts, but to what extent is this existing in society?

        1. Kelley says:

          I wouldn’t say we see it so much in America these days, but it still exists in some ways I’m sure. And of course we see ‘make believe’ and using our imaginations as well as optical illusions, but those are simply just that and not ‘magic’ as is described in scripture here. However, in other parts of the world like remote African villages, jungles, parts of Asia, etc., people are still driven by fear of the demonic forces and very much bow down to their witch doctors and shamans, who hold power over the people in a very captivating and dark way.
          So I hope this helps to distinguish between the actual differences between optical illusions/make believe, verses calling on demonic forces for power. Sometimes we tend to use the word ‘magic’ fairly loosely when there’s actually a lot of deeper, varying distinctions in the use of the word depending on it’s context :)

  5. Lindsey Bailey says:

    God will go through any earthly measure to make certain our souls are secure for eternity. The plagues will come, and we can stiffen our necks and harden our hearts to His message, but it may cause misery in our lives. One example for me is that God had really been laying on my heart to wake up earlier to spend time reading the Bible and praying. I was obeying, but not fully. I would hit snooze multiple times shortening the time that I had with Him. My sleep at night became really restless, and I was having trouble sleeping more than a few hours each night. It dawned on me that I had not been obedient to the Lord’s request of me to wake up earlier and worship Him. It may not have been a plague of disgusting frogs (thankfully), but it was bad enough to ‘wake me up’ and ensure that I obey. Once I obeyed completely, my sleep is so peaceful.

    1. Kristen says:

      Please listen to this song called a Reckless Love. Go to YouTube! It’s great!

      1. Sara says:

        Oh, I have been so blessed from that song too!! Always reminds me how great is God’s love to us and how He is always there fighting for and with us

  6. Amanda says:

    I live in Asheville, North Carolina!

    That aside, I really like how Melanie brings out the point in the story of God not only saving his people, but doing it in a way that is showing he IS God. He could have just wiped the Egyptians out with one wink if he wanted to, but he didn’t want to just remind his people who he was, he wanted the Egyptians to acknowledge who he is too.

    I think this is very tactful. It’s one thing to argue with someone to prove you’re right, it’s another to argue with them in a way that they eventually see you are right and acknowledge it themselves. That’s where the thought pattern can change, and even a life change can be made! God isn’t about just having his way, but truly changing the hearts and minds of people as they see and acknowledge who he really is. Cunning and gracious.

  7. Sarah Wohlgamuth says:

    It struck me that Pharaoh had asked Moses to get rid of the frogs, and when Moses asks when, and Pharaoh says TOMORROW. Get rid of the frogs tomorrow. How ridiculous is that? But then, I remember, how many times I think “Oh, I’ll change that habit tomorrow,” or “Hey God, let’s spend more time together tomorrow.” In a strange way, I get used to sleeping with frogs in my bed and start liking it. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after, it’s not a big deal. But, it is. And, oh, that I would stop pushing the healing, cleansing Presence of God off until tomorrow..

    1. Kristen says:

      Sarah, thanks for sharing that perspective. I too was like, “tomorrow,” why not now?! I’m guilty of the same thing, putting off change until tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Zoe says:

      Amazing insight, thanks Sarah.

    3. Katie Morrison says:

      Thank you for sharing, Sarah!

    4. Kathleen Mullin says:

      Wow! I’ve done that too. Thanks for sharing Sarah !

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